The local business community welcomed the news of Thai conglomerate PTT Oil and Retail Business’ (PTTOR) expansion in Cambodia and the region even as Covid-19 continues to spread.

PTTOR acting CEO Jiraphon Kawswat announced that the firm had earmarked a 74.6 billion baht ($2.5 billion) budget for the 2021-2025 expansion of its three mainstay businesses, as reported by Thailand’s The Nation.

The company will focus on the expansion of filling stations and Cafe Amazon branches in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), plus the Philippines. It will also open more branches of Thailand’s flagship brand of coffee in China. PTT currently has 329 petrol stations in overseas markets, The Nation said.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng welcomed PTTOR’s decision to penetrate deeper into CLMV as a strategic business expansion in the spirit of the ASEAN Economic Community with a vision of prosperity in the region.

He said: “Generally speaking, they recognise the opportunity to grow their business in the region as well as in our country – we can see that in the sheer number of PTT branches in the country.

“What they are doing fits right in with the plan of guiding principles for the ASEAN community, and we do welcome their business expansion in our country.”

According to The Nation, of PTTOR’s total budget, 34.6 per cent will be invested in its oil business, 28.6 per cent in its non-oil business and 21.8 per cent in international business. The remaining 15 per cent will be spent on other businesses and on exploring new business opportunities.

For its oil business, the company aims to increase the number of PTT filling stations in Thailand from the current 1,986 to 3,100 by 2025, Jiraphon said.

For its non-oil business, the firm has targeted expansion of its Cafe Amazon chain in Thailand from 3,186 to 5,800 outlets by 2025.

The Cambodian embassy in Bangkok will establish a representative office for the “Cambodia Business Council” (CBC) in the Thai capital in the upcoming months to serve as a one-stop shop for business and trade between Cambodia and Thailand.

And Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sorphorn recently told The Post that the CBC will develop an “Advocacy Pillar” based in the office that will be dedicated to promoting dialogue between Thai investors and their Cambodian counterparts in the government and private sector.

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Thailand was worth $5.569 billion in the first nine months of 2020, down 19 per cent year-on-year, according to data from the Thai Ministry of Commerce.

Cambodian exports to Thailand were to the tune of $958 million, slipping 48 per cent, while imports clocked in at $4.611 billion, down nine per cent.

Meanwhile, the total volume of trade between Cambodia and Thailand reached $9.41 billion in 2019, up 12 per cent from $8.38 billion in 2018.

The majority of Cambodia’s exports to Thailand comprise gemstones, jewellery, agricultural products and aluminium, the ministry said. Cambodia’s imports from Thailand mainly consist of fuel, motorcycles, cars, gemstones and jewellery.